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Watford hand Valerien Ismael new contract

Championship strugglers Watford have tied down their manager Valerien Ismael to a new long-term contract despite a dismal league start.

According to the club’s official website, the former France youth international has signed a new deal at Vicarage Road with slightly enhanced terms.

The Hornets’ decision to hand the 48-year-old a new contract amid the club’s dreadful spell of form in the second tier is a surprise, given their habit of sacking underperforming managers.

Watford succumbed to a 3-2 home defeat to Middlesbrough at the weekend, casting further doubt on their hopes to return to the Premier League after a two-year absence.

Back-to-back league losses have left the Hertfordshire outfit stranded in the lower reaches, only one point and two places above the relegation zone.

Stuck in 20th in the Championship standings, they have only registered two wins in their opening nine league matches (D3, L4), falling seven points adrift of the early play-off pace.

Ismael replaced Chris Wilder as the new Watford manager last May after a season-long stint in the Turkish Super Lig with Besiktas.

Club owner Gino Pozzo claimed earlier in the summer that the Frenchman ‘ticked all the boxes’ for the type of manager the Hornets were keen to recruit after parting with Wilder.

Watford sporting director Cristiano Giaretta seemingly shares the owner’s view as he praised Ismael’s work at Vicarage Road upon the extension announcement.

“The owner, the board and all of the senior management team have enjoyed getting to know and understanding Valerien and his methods,” he said.

“It’s true we haven’t achieved the points we would like yet, but it’s the work and the progress we can see that gives us great confidence.”

Ismael won’t have to wait long to repay the club’s trust as Watford head to the Stadium of Light to take on high-flying Sunderland on Wednesday.

Eking out much-needed three points would be a statement of intent, especially considering the Hornets haven’t won on the road across their last 14 competitive games.

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